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Singer and Virgin Islands Native Jon Lucien Dies at 64

Aug. 19, 2007 — One of the pioneers of the smooth jazz style, Jon Lucien, died Saturday in Florida at the age of 64.
The two-time Grammy-award winning musician, composer, arranger and vocalist was born on Tortola and raised on St. Thomas, before making his way to fame and fortune in New York in the mid-1960's.
Over the course of a 28-year career, Lucien, born Lucien "Billy" Harrigan, recorded 12 albums. According to his brother, Pedrito Robles, he had finished recording tracks for a gospel music CD at the time of his death. His Grammy awards came in 1973 for the tunes, "Rashida" and "Lady Love."
Lucien's career began on St. Thomas, where he grew up with brothers and sisters and a guitar-playing father.
"At the young age of 16 or 17 or so, he used to play with this group on the waterfront called the Marty Clarke Trio," Robles said. "They used to play upstairs at Sebastian's on the waterfront. He used to play the stand-up bass, there was a guy named Louis Issac who used to play drums and Monty Clark was the pianist. Jon used to play the bass and sing."
His vocal style — a deep baritone that he used to weave rich, romantic ballads — was difficult to classify. It eventually became known as smooth jazz, or quiet storm. The artist himself, on "his website", called it a fusion of jazz, rhythm and blues, Caribbean and Brazilian sounds.
Jazz maven Lee Vanterpool, known to his radio listeners on KISS 101.3 FM as Lee V, said Sunday night he would sorely miss Lucien.
“Jon’s sound was uniquely him,” Vanterpool said.
“We grew up together on St. Thomas from when we were 13 years old,” he said. “A lot of times I would sit and listen to his music and think, ‘He can take me anywhere he wants to go.’”
Vanterpool said he had been talking about Lucien on his Sunday afternoon jazz show, when he got the call about Lucien’s death.
Robles said Jon Lucien's fame did not follow him back home to the Virgin Islands, although he did come back to St. Thomas on occasion to perform. According to his brother, "There were a lot of people who were aware of him but I wouldn't say the vast majority is even aware of him and his enormous talent. He's more widely known in the States and people here who follow music and jazz," Robles said.
Recordings made over close to three decades include "I Am Now," (RCA 1970), "Rashida" (RCA 1973), "Mind's Eye" (RCA 1974), "Song For My Lady" (CBS 1975), "Premonition" (CBS 1976), "Romantico" (Precision 1982), "Listen Love" (Mercury 1991), "Mother Nature's Son" (PolyGram 1993), "Endless Is Love" (Shanachie 1997), "By Request" (Shanachie 1999), "Precious" (Love Arts 1999), and "The Best Of" (Camden Deluxe 2001).

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